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Richard Kern Presents a Selected Body of Work at Kaune, Sudendorf Gallery
Richard Kern, "Sleeper Wakes Up" (Sophie), 2004. C-Print 76.2 x 101.6 cm.
COLOGNE.- With the exhibition ›Hello‹ of photographs by the US american artist Richard Kern the Kaune, Sudendorf Gallery presents a selected body of work mainly out of his monographs Model Release and Looker.

Richard Kern, photographer and underground filmmaker was born in 1954 in Roanoke Rapids/ NC. He lives and works in New York City. After studying fine arts at the university of North Carolina, his career took off in the 80‘s when he bought a Super 8 camera and started to make experimental films. He first came to underground prominence as part of the underground cultural explosion in the East Village of New York City in the 1980s, with erotic and films featuring underground personalities of the time such as Lydia Lunch, David Wojnarowicz, Sonic Youth, Kembra Pfahler, and Henry Rollins in movies like „The Right Side of My Brain“ and „Fingered.“ Like many of the musicians around him, Kern had a deep interest in the aesthetics of extreme sex, violence, and perversion and was one of the leading lights of Nick Zedd‘s coined Cinema of Transgression.

In the 90’s he switched to photography full time and occasionally directed music videos for bands like Sonic Youth and Marilyn Manson. Within the last 15 years, Kern has published several books and is a regular contributor to a variety of international magazines. For more than two decades Kern has sought to unravel and illuminate the complex and often darker sides of human nature by making the psychological space between the sitter, photographer and audience his subject. With his dry, matter of fact approach, he underlines the absurdity of truth and objectivity in photography while playing with our reliance upon taxonomies around sexual representation. The principal subject of the artist’s photographs is in fact nude young women. But Kern is not attempting to exploit the female body as an object with an erotic effect on the observer; his photographs are portraits. Kern‘s Models include such strong female personalities as Lydia Lunch, Karen Finley, Lucy McKenzie, Kim Gordon, Chloë Sevigny, Jema Malone, Hilary Swank and Asia Argento.

Each of his images is an invitation to join him in his privileged world where natural young women share their most intimate moments. Richard has never lost his boyish curiosity with girls and their secrets, so instead of posing them in sterile sets he follows them through the house — or rather his New York apartment — from backyard to kitchen to bathroom to bedroom, capturing every personal and embarrassing moment.

Model Lucy McKenzie describes Richard Kern´s photographic work in the preface of the monograph Model Release as follows: „ I have always responded to the morality in his work. It is not a hard-nosed political anti-society stance. But it definitely comes from punk and alternative culture - the amusing frankness, cockeyed theatricality, unashamed naked lust over unperfect young girls, Richard would be the last person to lie or be pretentious about what he does, and I salute him for it.“

Kern’s visual language is quite distinctive and easy to read out of thousands of nude photographs that followed his outstanding example over the last years.

It might be the mixture of getting the perfect moment, his subtle feeling for surroundings and often the provocation of his models frankness that makes him an undoubted icon of contemporary nude color photography.

Kaune Sudendorf Gallery | Richard Kern | Selected Body of Work |


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